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My husband and I use flavored protection—not because we particularly enjoy it, but because it’s the only kind our local public library gives out. Recently, I found our 11-year-old son with one of our condoms in his mouth! Internally, I freaked out, but I calmed myself down and explained to him that condoms aren’t candy. Apparently, he took a liking to them because he got into our stash again and took an ungodly number. I proceeded to hide the condoms and reprimand my son. I thought that was the end of that, but about a week later I received an email from the mom of one of George’s friends telling me that George had been trading my flavored condoms for food items at lunchtime! I want to put an end to this behavior, but I don’t want to pour cold water on my son’s entrepreneurial spirit. What should I do?
First, the good news: Here are a few searchable online indexes of where to find free condoms, so you don’t have to rely solely on the flavored variety at the public library. The other good news—I guess it’s all good news today!—is that this is pretty age-appropriate roguishness, and not something you have to worry too much about. By all means, continue to keep the condoms somewhere inaccessible to your kid, because you don’t want to get a lot of updates from the school cafeteria. If you’re worried he still has a few extra squirreled away in his jacket pocket or in his bedroom, he’s still young enough that you can pull rank, go through his stuff, and get rid of the remaining stash. But treat it the way you would any low-level contraband, rather than a dire threat. There’s nothing evil or scary about condoms, and you don’t need to panic that your kid’s going to turn into a sex fiend or corrupt his classmates. He’ll find other stuff to trade at lunch, I’m sure. He sounds like a pretty resourceful kid.
Help! I’m Worried My Wife’s Pot Smoking Is a Bad Influence on Our Kids.
Danny M. Lavery is joined by Max Jacobs on this week’s episode of the Dear Prudence podcast.
I am a woman in my mid-20s in a relationship of nearly three years with a great man the same age. We both are medicated for depression, but I have regular therapy appointments (I’m still on my parents’ health insurance), and his insurance doesn’t make that an affordable option. Lately he’s had really bad, if infrequent, depressive episodes. He’s confided in me that he’s experienced suicidal ideation but so far has been “safe.” I try to help as much as I can, but I’m not a mental health professional, and he’s had traumatic experiences we both agree would be best processed with a therapist. I’ve offered to help pay for therapy, but he won’t entertain that as an option. (He makes more than me but also has student debt and no help from family to fall back on.) I’ve encouraged him to seek an online support group or forum, but as far as I know he hasn’t. I dread the day when I won’t be able to help him or will call for an ambulance for him that will, at best, add debt to his depression. Are there any more options or resources for him/us? And how do I accept that I’m giving him enough support even if I can’t get him therapy?
—Reaping the Rewards of Therapy Alone
It’s not that your boyfriend doesn’t have options already, so I’m reluctant to suggest more when the issue seems to have more to do with motivation than anything else. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) try to force him into seeking help, there’s room to shift here from “I think it would be a good idea to talk to a therapist, and I’m happy to help pay for it” to a more pressing conversation. Tell him: “I’m reaching my limits here, and it’s really important to me that you find another outlet soon. The way things are now might feel sufficiently ‘safe’ to you, but I’m constantly worried about how you’ll cope if I’m unavailable when you’re in crisis. That’s not emotionally sustainable for me. You’ve said you’re not willing to let me help pay for therapy, but I hope you’ll reconsider that, especially since I consider therapy as something that helps both of us. If you don’t, I’ll respect that, but then I’ll ask you to please find a support group you can attend regularly, or some other affordable alternative, because our relationship needs the extra help.” If he shoots down all of those possibilities, you can still push to come up with a safety plan together for dealing with future suicidal thoughts, even if that plan is just a few backup names he can text “I’m having a tough night” when you’re not available. Beyond that, back off, make sure you’re scheduling some things just for yourself throughout the week, and talk to your own friends and therapist about how this newfound emotional stress is weighing on you.
I matched with a guy on Hinge about two weeks ago. I sent him a like first, he liked me back, and then we matched. He left it up to me to start the conversation. I was really busy so I never got the chance to write at the time, but I finally messaged him a couple of days ago. He hasn’t answered yet. What do I do? We happen to attend the same university, and we have a mutual friend or two. We’ve never spoken in person, but would it be weird to friend him on Instagram (in hopes that he replies to my message on Hinge)? I really want things to work out with this guy!
—First a Like, Then a Friend
You can safely friend him, I think, without worrying that you’re spamming his inbox or misinterpreting the signs. Since you were busy and let your own messages languish for a few days, you can assume there’s a decent chance the same is true for him. Lots of people treat dating apps as a low- to midlevel priority, and it doesn’t mean they’re not sincerely interested in pursuing matches, just that a series of “liked” profiles can feel a little distant, especially at first. Send a friend request, and a short message if you like, and then if you still don’t get a response, you can move on to the next match.
Now available in your podcast player: the audiobook edition of Danny M. Lavery’s latest book, Something That May Shock and Discredit You. Get it from Slate.
More Advice From How to Do It
My wife is bisexual, and I’ve always been cool with her playing with other women, and sometimes other guys—we have plenty of sex, so I know it’s not about me. I’m usually a one-woman kind of guy myself, but recently we had a couple over socially and things got a little heated. My wife and the woman had fooled around before, but never with her boyfriend. I sort of figured we’d just watch, but then the guy put his hand on my thigh. I wasn’t really sure how to respond—I’ve never been with a guy and don’t think I’m interested—so I just left the room. My wife was a little upset; she felt I was too closed off to experimentation. But shouldn’t this kind of thing happen with lots of communication? I sort of suspect she and the other couple intended things to go in this direction, and I’m the only one who didn’t know. We have a pretty conservative background and our relationship is very unconventional in our world, so I’m not really sure of the ground rules. What should I do, in this instance and in potential future ones?